Tag Archives: growing up

Hunting in the Concrete Jungle

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Like a lioness in the African pride lands, a post-grad girl spends so many of her days and nights hunting. Hunting for what, you may ask? And I reply, what are we not hunting for? Job opportunities, successful men to date, the perfect brunch spot, a nail salon with a cheap-but-still-clean atmosphere. Recently, the most important thing that I’ve been hunting for is an apartment. And let me tell you. It’s brutal.

ImageMe looking tired while apartment hunting after work last week.

While the hunt for an alpha male is pretty ferocious, I honestly think the hunt for a home in the vast and viciously overpopulated jungle that is New York City is ten times as cut-throat. Pairs of snarling twenty-somethings can be seen salivating over the same shoe-box sized Upper East Side apartment, staring each other down, ready to fight it out to win their territory. You have to be the quickest, the swiftest, ready to pounce at any moment on the prize – because before you know it, it’s gone. Brokers taunt you with listings promising “TRUE 2BR!” or “CLOSE TO SUBWAYS,” only to disappoint you day after day with crappy 5th floor walk-ups on 73rd and York, when all you really wanted was to be somewhere in the vicinity of the express train and a Dunkin’ Donuts. It’s a cruel life for the 23-year-old entry level lion cub trying to move on from her home and start a life all her own out in the wild.

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Actual footage.

All metaphors aside, the process truly is really tough. There are serious trade-offs when you’re moving out for the first time, and I’m smack in the middle of understanding all of that myself right now. Moving out of the basement of my childhood home in Queens has been all I’ve wanted for about 6 months, but it’s not easy. It means meeting with broker after broker, all of whom seem to be halfway reliable at best, and making the uptown-trek a few times a week only to be disappointed at numerous apartments. It means trolling Craigslist and all of the other apartment listing sites every day on your lunch break to stay ahead of the game. “Bidding wars” and “guarantors” become part of your every day vocabulary. It means understanding that the first few months following your eventual move, you’re probably going to live a little less glamorously than you want to – Ramen noodle dinners, cheap wine, and Netflix-filled Fridays on the week that rent is due.

But the upside of the trade-off is that you become this free, independent version of yourself, bounding through the savanna (aka the island of Manhattan) with the rest of your pride (aka your roommate and other broke NYC-residing friends), making frequent stops at local watering holes and pouncing and nuzzling with handsome males…too far?

I’m not there yet, but I’m on my way. And so I know that the process is hard. My advice to fellow post-grads in the same predicament is as follows:

  • Be flexible. Part of this is understanding that your first apartment is probably not going to be your dream apartment. You may have to compromise some of your plans. Not all of them – don’t do that to yourself or you’ll be miserable, but be prepared to give up some things. It might mean walking up two extra flights of stairs to get to the door of your apartment but if it’s a block away from the subway, you’ll thank yourself come wintertime.
  • Be decisive. Know what you want, know what you can and can’t settle for, and act quickly when you find something that fits within your range. If you don’t pounce quickly, someone else will.
  • Be smart. Realize early that rent is only part of the equation. You also need to factor in utilities, transportation, groceries, toiletries, and most importantly, wine. Budget everything out before you decide what you can afford.
  • Be patient. This is the most important of all, and the part I’m struggling the most with. Eventually, you’ll find something. So keeping a good head on your shoulders and not rushing into something rash is crucial. Take it one day at a time, and keep on hunting. Before you know it, you’ll be all settled in, turning your apartment into your home.

Hakuna Matata.

Day 280 – Why I’m Probably Not Going to my High School Reunion

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I received something in the mail a few weeks ago that really brought me back.

Back to a time of few to no responsibilities. A time when your “job” meant working four hour shifts in the mall or at the grocery store. A time when your parents chauffeured you to and from parties. A time when you were convinced your boyfriend of four-months was the man you were going to marry. A time when people were generally shittier versions of their current selves.

High School.

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Ugh, ugly thumb syndrome.

I received the invitation to my 5-year high school reunion and after some thought I think I’ve decided not to go. Why? Because there are just some people that I’m okay with never seeing again. And if life decides to have us cross paths? Okay. But it doesn’t mean I need to subject myself to that happening inside my high school cafeteria.

But for those of you who do plan on going, here’s my prediction on who you’ll be interacting with.

The Five People You’ll See at Your High School Reunion

5. The Principal/Dean/Guidance Counselor

In high school, I used to wear sunglasses on my head as an accessory almost every day (Foreshadowing that I’d be in college in Miami?), and it drove my principal crazy. I’d walk from my locker towards my homeroom and there she’d wait, in the same spot, and swipe them off my head as I walked by. “You’re inside now, Ms. Chuber,” she’d remind me. And I’d nod, wait till she was out of sight, and then push them back onto my head.

Whatever your relationship was with members of authority in high school, chances are you were way more of a douchebag then than you are now. And so you’ll probably have to deal with Past You’s annoying attitude when you interact with these individuals. Maybe you spent a lot of time in detention. Or in the Dean’s office. Or being dramatic to your guidance counselor. Whatever it was, the faculty will definitely remember you because of some particular detail. And they’re going to bring it up, at some point or another. I can hear Sister Kathleen now… “Where are your sunglasses, Kristen? Did you leave them down in Miami? Do you still wear them, whatever the weather?” Yes. Yes I do.

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4. The High School BFF

This is someone that normally, you’d love to catch up with! The girl/guy you were super close to for four years. They’re the person you went out with on the weekends, spent your free periods with planning your Sweet 16, and gossiped with about boys in adjacent bathroom stalls. Yet you two may have drifted, such is life, and years may have passed since you two have spoken. While I personally would enjoy catching up with my high school best friends, within the confines of a high school reunion, it may feel unnatural.

A few things may happen. First, you may experience what any fellow How I Met Your Mother fans will understand as “Revertigo,” where in order to make interaction normal, you revert back to the high school version of yourself. So if you two were notoriously boy crazy, the first thing you would probably ask would be, “So, what’s your guy situation right now??” You’d take MySpace style pictures and maybe even upload them to Facebook. #besties #reunited. Or maybe something came between the two of you in order to end the BFFriendship, and that event/person will be the elephant in the room for the extent of your conversation. Or maybe you’ll assume you can just pick up where you left off and maybe it’ll be much harder than you thought because one of you went through a drastic life change like giving up drinking or going brunette. There’s definitely potential for awkwardness there. So just beware.

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3. The Person Who Not-S0-Secretly Hates You

Whether or not it’s out in the open, there’s that person that you know just isn’t a fan of yours. Maybe it’s because you made fun of them in gym class for being a total weirdo or because you dated her boyfriend after they broke up “even though she said it was okay.” But by no means are you friends, and they’re definitely not trying to be.   You might try to avoid them, or maybe you’ll do the opposite, and try to be overly sweet to make up for your less than happy memories with this person. Regardless, you should probably keep an eye out, in case you’re on their hitlist.

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2. Your High School Worst Enemy

Everyone had a worst enemy in high school. The person that you absolutely could not stand. So much so, that on graduation day, you thanked your lucky stars you’d be rid of her for good. And you’ve managed to avoid her for five years. But here you are, going to your high school reunion, knowing she will be there. It’s not that you care about the drama anymore; after all, it was five years ago. But there is ZERO part of you that wants to see this person. Ever again.

And that’s okay. While most of the problems that existed between high schoolers was based on immaturity and probably just boredom, you don’t need to reach out to every person you disliked in the past and attempt to rekindle a friendship. As long as you can both be civil if and when you run into each other somewhere, that is enough. No need to force a friendship just to prove you’re not the grotsky little beotch you were in 10th grade.

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1. A Horrible Version of Yourself That You Want To Forget Forever

“I was probably the best version of myself in high school,” said no one ever. We all thought we were the coolest thing since ice pops, and let’s face it – we weren’t. I would truly love to shake High School Kristen by her shoulders, letting her giant hoop earrings swing back and forth smacking her in the face, and tell her that she’s a giant tool and to STOP. I want to say, “No, Kristen, you should NOT have a Xanga! Your future college friends are going to find it and never let you live it down!” Being back in my high school, looking at old pictures, and talking about 15 year old me is only going to remind me of how lame and obnoxious everyone was in high school. And by everyone I mean primarily myself.

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So I don’t think I’ll be attending my high school reunion this time around.

I’d rather catch up like normal people. And grab a coffee with someone I recently reconnected with on Facebook. Or get a big group together and go to a bar. And chat about the latest episode of the Bachelor or how hot that guy I dumped in 12th grade got and whether or not the 10th grade English teacher ever hooked up with a student or, my favorite, how awkward our past selves were. And I don’t think I need to pay $50 and feel awkward for 3 hours in order to reunite with people from my past.

Plus, thanks to social media, it’s really easy to reach out and get back in touch with people. If and when I want to reconnect with some friends from the “old days,” its nice to know that everyone is just a Facebook message, a Tweet, a text, or an e-mail away. With the technology available to us, reunions aren’t really necessary anymore. In fact, we probably already know a lot about what everyone has been up to thanks to that technology. I’ve seen your new apartment on Instagram, saw your Tweet about working for Goldman Sachs, and noticed you updated your Facebook to include NYU Medical School under your Education. 

Regardless, I hope everyone has fun. And I’ll strongly consider attention The Mary Louis Academy’s 10-year reunion in 2018 🙂

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The girls who made high school a little less crappy. June 1, 2008.